Lesson 5: When to Extend Night Driving Hours
After getting a license, your teen may be tempted to stay out later and drive home at night. Though this might be more convenient for you, it is crucial that you stick to a strict curfew that limits your teen’s night driving. As your teen develops better driving skills, you’ll want to ease these restrictions, but you should put careful thought into this change. Here are some issues to consider before extending night driving hours for your teen.
Though it might not seem like a major risk to experienced drivers, teens are disproportionately killed in crashes at night, particularly after midnight. Due to these high risks, driving after midnight should be off the table for your teen for the near future. You should also plan to limit your teen’s time driving after 9 p.m. as much as possible. This is crucial to keep in mind if your teen has a job, or is involved in sports or other after-school activities. Plan around these commitments so your teen doesn’t have to drive alone late at night. You can still get plenty of time practicing with your teen before these hours, and once your teen’s skills are in the right place, you can consider loosening these restrictions.
This won’t be easy. Your teen will want to take advantage of his or her ability to drive alone, and the inconvenience of these limits may tempt you to relax them. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial for you to practice often with your teen, and use your best judgement to determine when he or she is ready for more freedom behind the wheel. No one knows your new driver’s skills the way you do, and your teen can’t fully understand how dangerous night driving is. So pay careful attention to your teen’s development, see how consistent he or she is over time, and only extend night driving hours when appropriate, not when it’s convenient.
Practice: Continue to drive with your teen in the passenger seat at night, and when he or she is ready, let your teen drive you both home. Explain to your teen the importance of scanning the road, driving for the conditions and being patient. Nearly every driving risk is amplified at night, so your teen must learn to stay alert and expect hazards. Once your teen has demonstrated these night driving skills repeatedly with you in the vehicle, he or she may be ready to drive alone at night.